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Best of Japan cruise Spectrum Of The Seas October 1 - 8 2019 , a new experience.

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Guess I need to do the summary ,

 

The ship

Spectrum of the seas is a wonderful ship with many of the things people love about the Q class (270 , music hall) + some extras as laser Tag and the new coffee shops. The ship as a feeling of a big ship , not crowded at all (beside the WJ) 

Entertainment:

Royal did a good job here , although due to the language difference the shows are more on the physical side   (Dancing , acrobats) and singing still they are very nice , Show girls was very good , the home production was nice , the headliner shows were funny, we liked less the Silk Road. We loved the "let it be AC/DC"

Activities 

You will find all the activities you have on other ships , maybe less trivia (although it exist) but all the rest are more and less there , including the quest , lover and marriage  and other game shows , the only thing that I did not so was the Bingo , but I Am not really missing it. Just take into consideration that games can take longer as every thing is being translated to Mandarin, But I Guess its the same when you take a ship from ports like Porto Rico or even Barcelona. 

Parties :

There was the balloons dropping party , the 70 party , the silent party (which was  very funny) and wild west party. 

Bars and bar services  

There were many bars , but almost no one was seating in the bars , service was OK but you never so roaming bar waiters , apparently most of the people that board in Shanghai do not drink or they drink beer and Sodas. The good think is the cost of the drinking package on board , 49$ for the first person and 50% for the second , also drinking card came on day 4 for 12 drinks at the cost of 68$ !. I did not seen any alcohol missing on board but did not try everything.
The issue is that most of the bars a closed early (Schonner  bar close at midnight for example) beside the Casino Bar and the Music hall .

Port of calls

Shanghai - Loved the city , very clean very modern in most of the places, very cheep and also interesting , most of the street names and signs in the main area are also in English , transportation is easy and even if you went into a line without English sign its easy to remember the symbol of your last station/direction. I wish I added few more days there. Port is around 40 minutes from the city center.

Osaka -  Maybe since we had a problem with our shore excursion or for some other reason we thought its not the best port , you have few places to visit unless you want to drive extra time. The plus is that you got a mall and many restaurants just adjust to the port 

Kobe - nice port with easy transportation , a good port to go and roam a typical Japanese city , test local foods and markets.

Tokyo (Yokohama)-  port is 20-30 minutes drive, Tokyo is amazing and we felt we could have spent more time there , i would skip any excursion which brings you to the imperial palace as you can not even get near the palace so its quite a waste of time, Go to the center were the big temple is and just walk around. amazing city.  

Embarkation / disembarkation

This was super easy, you come to the port , drop your luggage and go to the international passenger line (which also shared with Platinum + line) , quick security like any other port  , quick check in , immigration which can take 10 -15 minutes and that is it , all the signs are also in English , very easy to find things. Disembarkation was the same , you go out of the ship , pass immigration , collect your suitcases and pass via custom , the only thing you should now is the distance to the taxi lines , its quite far 8-10 minutes walk.

Food 

You will find all of the regular menus in the MDR (maybe they change it after people complain) you get the regular menu and the Chinese menu  which you can choose from. in the WJ  you can find some Western food , Chinese food and many time lots of Indian food , always there is something. Silver dining room  - this is exactly like Solarium bistro at night , we did not eat there too many dinners as the main dish are always the same,
Service in the MDR was very very good , the best we ever had so far , the waiters did not let our wine glasses to get empty and food came very fast. Pleas mind , in general in all the restaurants they try to bring you the food very very fast , some will say too fast , I guess this is the request of most of the passenger. No issue to find Western food , but I must agree with most of the comments that I read , the Chinese food is not what we know as Chinese food but more I will say , simple , or in other words , real Chinese food.

Internet 

This was very problematic, it worked only 75% of the time and when it worked it was very slow and blocked access to the site.

Atmosphere 

I did not encounter any strange behavior or cutting in lines , yes , on rush time you might wait for the elevators and they will be crowded , more than other ships  , not sure. People in general were nice and try to have fun. take into consideration the ship going to sleep quite early. 

 

I must say , it was a good idea to add many vacation days after the cruise , it did not felt as real last day as we knew we had lots of more interesting things to do so we loved Singapore after and also Thailand , although I had to cut few days since been asked to fly to a business meeting in the country that serves french fries with gravy and cheese and proud of it. So will not have time to fix my clock , as just after this business trip will need to go to Italy again , and not for cruise. 

Next cruise for know is April 11 days Med , Jewel of the seas .

 

  

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@Traveler, I'm curious if you had a standard visa for entry into China / Shanghai, or if you were relying on the 144-hour visa waiver? Seems you had a much smoother experience from airport to hotel before your cruise, unlike the passengers on that subsequent Quantum cruise who got detained by customs when they thought they were covered under that 144-hour waiver.

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If I remember correctly, Traveller is from Israel. Israel is not included in the list of countries which can use the 144 hour visa waiver program.

Though I heard from someone currently onboard Spectrum who was in line for the 144 hour visa exemption and got through fine. According to him, it was mostly people who had stamps from Turkey or some arabian countries who were refused entry.

Based on that, we quickly got visas before leaving for Shanghai next week, as we have turkish stamps in our passport, just to be on the save side.

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3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

@Traveler, I'm curious if you had a standard visa for entry into China / Shanghai, or if you were relying on the 144-hour visa waiver? Seems you had a much smoother experience from airport to hotel before your cruise, unlike the passengers on that subsequent Quantum cruise who got detained by customs when they thought they were covered under that 144-hour waiver.

Hi , 

I had a Visa with multi entries , the 144 hours will not work for me but the 24 hours could have work but just did not want to take the risk ,  to do the Visa took me 30 minutes and cost me around 40 $ so it was OK.
We did got an email from Royal 10 days before the cruise that we should better have a Visa since the lines to get the 144/72/24 hours in the airport visa might take long time.

Same I have done with Vietnam.

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2 hours ago, Brandis said:

Though I heard from someone currently onboard Spectrum who was in line for the 144 hour visa exemption and got through fine. According to him, it was mostly people who had stamps from Turkey or some arabian countries who were refused entry.

Reports of "hundreds" of Brits recently being turned away upon landing in China to board Quantum.  A few managed through the 144 visa process while hundreds were forced to fly on to the next stop or fly home.  

Any foreigner thinking about cruising in China should consider the full visa process rather than relying on the 144 hour visa waiver exemption.  

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/10104598/royal-caribbean-cruise-china-border-visa/

  • The Foreign Office has updated their travel advice for China, explaining: "The British Embassy in Beijing has received reports of a recent increase in cases where entry to China under the visa waiver on arrival scheme has been refused, which may be linked to previous travel history.
  • "You should note that entry to China under a visa waiver is not guaranteed - Chinese border officials have the right to refuse entry without warning or explanation."
  • Forty-six-year-old Clair Matthews was travelling with her husband and parents-in-law when they faced similar problems - and were all refused entry.

    She explained that even though they had a temporary visa, they said they were not allowed in.

    Clair added: "I was told that if I was still here within 24 hours of landing and didn’t have proof of onward travel, I would be taken to prison."

    Both groups were forced to pay for flights to Japan to meet the ship at its next port, with Clair and her family spending more than £3,000 for last minute tickets and four nights at a hotel.

    Kate Hayes, 67, and her husband Ray, 72, were also both turned away after landing at Beijing Airport.

    She told the Liverpool Echo that immigration officers "didn't have a reason" for refusing them entry.

 

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27 minutes ago, twangster said:

"You should note that entry to China under a visa waiver is not guaranteed - Chinese border officials have the right to refuse entry without warning or explanation."

But even if you have a visa, entry is never guaranteed, the border officials always can decide to turn you away. But chances are certainly higher that they let you in.

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8 minutes ago, Brandis said:

But even if you have a visa, entry is never guaranteed, the border officials always can decide to turn you away. But chances are certainly higher that they let you in.

That is correct , but I found it that 99.99% of the times when you have Visa and know what to say, fill correctly the landing form you will be OK , when traveling to such places I always take with me a copy of the flight back so I can show it if asked. 

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16 minutes ago, Brandis said:

But even if you have a visa, entry is never guaranteed, the border officials always can decide to turn you away. But chances are certainly higher that they let you in.

Absolutely a visa is never a guarantee, but simply showing up and hoping to use the 144 visa waiver scheme is very risky.  

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

Absolutely a visa is never a guarantee, but simply showing up and hoping to use the 144 visa waiver scheme is very risky.  

Correct : 

In China the issue is more complicate as they have transit Visa for 24 hours (which I can use) 72 and 144 hours to the European and US countries but it is not working the same from all ports. 

Also you need to consider this is is a transit Visa , so telling you are planning to visit China with this visa might create some issues as it is for transit ...

Another issue is people that write on the landing card the exist point as there flight back from the cruise , this is a huge mistake as they should write the ship as their exit point,  The huge advantage using a Visa or applying for online visa is that the checks are being done before you start your travel and not in the airport, it also force you to collect the right information before. You should also take into consideration that temp visas might be effected by the number of Visas/entries you country gave to people from the country you try to enter. 

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A friend of a friend just went to China this past September. Just getting the visas were interesting - the daughter works for a news station in the US and was only granted a 6 month visa (even though the trip was for pleasure) and the parents were granted 2 year visas. I don't know any more info that but that they were originally all applying for the same visa.

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4 minutes ago, ellcee said:

A friend of a friend just went to China this past September. Just getting the visas were interesting - the daughter works for a news station in the US and was only granted a 6 month visa (even though the trip was for pleasure) and the parents were granted 2 year visas. I don't know any more info that but that they were originally all applying for the same visa.

Same for me , I got 3.5 years Visa my spouse got 1.5 years , but as I understood its many time pending on your expiration date of your passport. 

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13 hours ago, Traveler said:

the Chinese food is not what we know as Chinese food but more I will say , simple , or in other words , real Chinese food.

I could tell from the pics that you posted but wanted to hear you confirm it.  Oh, how I wish I could sail this ship!  I would love to try it just for the food.

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